In a sign of the broad scope of her influence operations, accused Russian agent Mariia Butina pushed a prominent American businessman to boost investments in a failing Moscow bank, the Daily Beast reported Tuesday.
Butina allegedly urged Hank Greenberg, former chairman of the New York Federal Reserve and of insurance giant AIG, to increase his investments in Russian bank Investtorgbank. According to the Beast, this ultimately unsuccessful request was made in April 2015, when bank officials had already been accused of illegally pocketing tens of millions of dollars.
Sources familiar with Butina’s actions told the Beast that it was unclear if she was acting alone or on behalf of other interests like the Russian government.
At the time, Butina was serving as the personal assistant to top Russian Central Bank official Alexander Torshin.
The FBI has alleged that Butina, acting on Torshin’s orders, carried out a covert influence campaign to infiltrate American conservative groups and advance Russian interests. She is awaiting trial in a DC jail. Torshin has not been charged with any crimes.
Butina’s ties to Greenberg appear to stem from the Center for the National Interest (CNI), a D.C. think tank where she and Torshin attended an April 2015 meeting with U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve officials. CNI is unusual in D.C. foreign policy circles for working to foster dialogue between Russia and the U.S.
CNI’s executive director Paul Sanders recently told TPM that the encounter they helped arrange was an “entirely routine” off-the-record discussion between visiting foreign officials and their U.S. counterparts.
The Beast reported that Greenberg is one of CNI’s main sources of funding and serves as chairman emeritus of the group’s board.